Nine out of 10 Northern Ireland people cannot recall any proposal by the Eames/Bradley team on dealing with the past apart from the controversial £12,000 payment for families bereaved in the Troubles, a new survey revealed today.
Less than a year after its publication, around 90% of those questioned for a poll on behalf of the Victims’ Commission could not identify the blueprint for a legacy commission or a reconciliation forum — or knew there had been other recommendations.
Victims’ Commission chair Mike Nesbitt said the Consultative Group on the Past, chaired by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, had made 31 proposals but people could clearly remember only one — the so-called ‘recognition’ payment which the Government has now scrapped after a wave of outrage.
“The Eames/Bradley group thought they had some solid suggestions, but clearly the public have not been listening because they were deafened by the payment suggestion,” Mr Nesbitt said.
The opinion poll by Millward Brown Ulster, released to the Belfast Telegraph, also showed almost half the public are opposed to any future tribunals of inquiry into controversial events.
Some 48% of those questioned said they were opposed to such inquiries — giving their main reason as the expense which was described as a “waste of taxpayers’ money (which) should be capped”. Others argued the inquiries tend to drag on and there was a need to stop dwelling on the past.
Opposition to further tribunals also increases with age — 56% of those between 50 and 64 are against and 62% of those 65 and over. In contrast, overall a quarter said there should be further tribunals, arguing that people “still needed to find out the truth (and) there are still unresolved issues”.
At the same time around half of the 1,000-strong sample were also not aware of any of the public tribunals taking place at the moment — and a further 20% unable to recall the actual name of one of the inquiries. There are also indications that the debate over some form of one-off payment for victims, including the families of paramilitaries, has not entirely gone away. While more than twice as many loyalists as republicans are opposed to special payments, there is support for the idea thrown out by Secretary of State Shaun Woodward. This goes from almost 30% overall to even higher among people who consider themselves victims or survivors.
Just more than one in three of those polled said they had heard of the Consultative Group headed by former Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames and ex-Policing Board deputy Denis Bradley — but two thirds had heard of the recommendation for payments of £12,000 to relatives of those killed.
A total of 68% of those declaring themselves as loyalists said they were opposed to the compensation compared to 30% of republicans.